Here are some facts about the recent market drop:
* The NASDAQ was down 25.3% this past week.
* The NASDAQ fell nearly 10% yesterday alone.
* The NASDAQ is down 35% from it high.
* Yesterday was the largest point drop in history for both the NASDAQ and the S&P 500.
* Yesterday was the second worst percentage drop for the NASDAQ in history.
* Based on yesterday's close, the NASDAQ is still up 34% from one year ago.
Friday's market decline was initiated by CPI numbers coming in stronger than expected sparking fears that the Fed would have to get more aggressive about raising interest rates at their May meeting. It seemed as if investors were looking for an excuse to sell everything. If nothing else, we're relatively certain that Alan Greenspan is no longer concerned about "Irrational Exuberance" infecting stock values. Stocks dropped as if in a vacuum with no bidders to be found. The micro caps that we follow gave some more ground, but generally not on prolific volume.
The CPI number is all about Consumer Spending. Consumption has overheated the economy fueled by the "Wealth Effect" of the stock market. After this past week a lot of us are feeling a lot less wealthy. In addition, oil prices are continuing to drop. The Fed will probably take these factors into account at its next meeting. Perhaps the market's fears are unjustified.
Throughout the day CNBC put on a parade of analysts and money managers that had focused on Old Economy stocks, each of whom presented their case that value investing was back, and the high flying NASDAQ was no place for investors. However, a quick look back at similar sell offs reveals that big drops like this from the past have always represented great buying opportunities. After the market closed CNBC did an interview Abby Joseph Cohen, the highly regarded Goldman Sachs analyst. She was firm in her belief that the majority of your portfolio should remain in the technology sector, and bullish about the market. This will give the bulls some ammunition to hang their hats on.
The last sell off that could compare to this past week began at the end of July in 1998. It was sparked by the financial crisis in Asia, and became affectionately known as the Asian Contagion. In that case, the low was not established until the first week of October, and the total NASDAQ decline was 29%.
By the end of the first week of December in 1998 the NASDAQ had regained all of its losses, and proceeded to run from the 2,000 level to over 5,000 in a period of 16 months before beginning its current major correction.
The only question left is whether or not we are at a good bottom. We have now matched the 1998 sell-off in terms of percentage drop, but it happened a lot faster than it did in July of 1998. We are only three weeks into this decline. Nearly everybody agrees that we are much closer to the bottom than the top.
Margin pressure is helping to fuel fears that the selling will continue. Investors that were over leveraged in the high flying technology sector are feeling severe pain, and being forced to sell positions at very low prices. The few buyers around on Friday were all cut off at the knees.
Despite all the rhetoric you will hear over the next month about value investing from the media, do not allow that advice to deter you from keeping a large percentage of your stock market dollars in technology and aggressive growth. Everybody is always a genius after the fact. The NASDAQ is where growth is. In today's virtual economy technology companies have the ability to grow faster and become more profitable that they ever have in history. Over time it will be reflected in the price of the stocks that inhabit that market.
Use your common sense. Consider how much more you use the Internet than you did two years ago, and remember that Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) manufactures the predominant devices for routing traffic over the Internet. Cisco is down 30% from its 52 week high. Do you think that Cisco will be a smaller, or a much larger company in a year or two?
Wireless technology is another area that we all use a great deal more than we did two years. Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) owns the predominant world wide operating system for digital wireless technology. Qualcomm is trading 47% below its 52 week high. Ask yourself whether this will be a bigger or smaller company in two years, and will they grow faster that Wal Mart (NYSE: WMT), McDonald's, (NYSE: MCD) or Pfizer (NYSE PFE)?
If you look at the past week's sell-off in that light, and think forward to one to two years from now, it is not so difficult to put the whole thing in perspective.
If you are lucky enough to have cash you are comfortable committing to stocks at this point in time there are some great bargains to be had right now. It's like shopping for Christmas during January. However, be sure to keep your assets properly balanced for your risk tolerance. Consult a professional financial planner if you need help properly allocating your assets.
If nothing else, keep this thought in mind:
Here is a paraphrased quote from a man who is considered to be one of the fathers of the Mutual Fund industry, and one of the greatest fund managers of all time:
"I always made the most money when I bought at the point of maximum pessimism." -Sir John Templeton
It's going to take some time for the correction to complete the bottoming process, but we are likely to be a lot closer to the bottom than the top.
We have been getting alot of mail here at Momentum concerning this recent decline and where the best values will be when the Nasdaq recovers...We still see no material reasons to alter our original course of investing and holding tech stocks, especially internet infra-structure stocks...We still expect this to be a short lived decline and feel the market will not only bounce, but will rally around Nasdaq stocks...It looks grim now, but the internet is growing at a fantastic rate and tech stocks are the best positioned explosive growth prospects...The traditional old economy stocks that are getting alot of attention now just can not offer this type of growth and we feel that investors will flood back into the techs as soon as the smoke clears from this recent decline...